Circular from the President of Congress to the States


In Congress, December 27th, 1776.

Resolved, That General Washington be empowered to use every endeavour, by giving Bounties and otherwise, to prevail upon the Troops whose time of inlistment shall expire at the end of the month, to stay with the Army so long after that period as its situation shall render their stay necessary.

That the New Levies in Virginia, Maryland, the Delaware State, Pennsylvania, and New-Jersey, be ordered to march by Companies and parts of Companies, as fast as they shall be raised, and join the Army under General Washington with the utmost despatch.

That the foregoing Resolution be transmitted by the President to the Executive powers of the States before-mentioned, who are requested to carry it into execution; to appoint Commissaries to precede the Troops, and procure Provisions for them on their march; and that they be empowered to draw Money for this purpose from the nearest Continental Paymaster.

That General Washington be empowered to appoint a Commissary of Prisoners, and a Clothier-General for supplying the Army, to fix their salaries, and return their names to Congress.

That General Washington be requested to fix upon that system of promotion in the Continental Army which, in his opinion, and that of the General Officers with him, will produce most general satisfaction; that it be suggested to him whether a promotion of Field Officers in the Colonial line, and of Captains and Subalterns in the Regimental line, would not be the most proper.

That the Committee of Congress at Philadelphia be desired to contract with proper persons for erecting at Carlisle, in Pennsylvania, a Magazine sufficient to contain ten thousand stand of Arms and two hundred tons of Gunpowder, and also for erecting an Elaboratory adjacent to such Magazine.

That the Council of Massachusetts-Bay be desired to contract with proper persons for erecting in the town of Brookfield, in that State, a Magazine sufficient to contain ten thousand stand of Arms and two hundred tons of Gunpowder, and also for erecting an Elaboratory adjacent to such Magazine.

That Congress approve of General Washington directing the Quartermaster General to provide Teams for each Regiment, and for other necessary purposes.

That the Committee of Secret Correspondence be desired to direct the Commissioners at the Court of France to procure,


if possible, from that Court an hundred thousand stand of Small-Arms.

That the Second and Seventh Virginia Regiments, with all the convalescents from the other corps, left in that State and now fit for duty, be ordered to march and join the Army under General Washington with the utmost despatch, leaving the arms that they have at present with the Governour and Council of that State, as they will be provided with others at the Head of Elk.

That three of the Regiments upon the New Establishment in North-Carolina be ordered to march immediately to join General Washington. That the State of Virginia be empowered to call into service, at the Continental expense, three Regiments of Militia or Minute-Men, if such a measure shall be by that State judged necessary.

The unjust but determined purpose of the British Court to enslave these free States, obvious through every delusive insinuation to the contrary, having placed things in such a situation that the very existence of civil liberty now depends on the right execution of military powers, and the vigorous decisive conduct of these being impossible to distant, numerous, and deliberative bodies, this Congress having maturely considered the present crisis, and having perfect reliance on the wisdom, vigour, and uprightness of General Washington, do hereby resolve that General Washington shall be, and he is hereby, vested with full, ample, and complete power, to raise and collect together, in the most speedy and effectual manner, from any or all these United States, sixteen Battalions of Infantry, in addition to those already voted by Congress; to appoint Officers for the said Battalions; to raise, officer, and equip three thousand Light-Horse, three Regiments of Artillery, and a Corps of Engineers, and establish their pay; to apply to any of the States for such aid of the Militia as he shall judge necessary; to form such Magazines of Provisions, and in such places, as he shall think proper; to displace and appoint all officers under the rank of Brigadier-General, and to fill up all vacancies in every other department in the American Army; to take, wherever he may be, whatever he may want for the use of the Army, if the inhabitants will not sell it, allowing a reasonable price for the same; to arrest and confine persons who refuse to take the Continental Currency, or are otherwise disaffected to the American cause, and return to the States of which they are citizens, their names and the nature of their offences, together with the witnesses to prove them.

That the foregoing powers be vested in General Washington for and during the term of six months from the date hereof, unless sooner determined by Congress.

Resolved, That the Council of Safety of Pennsylvania be requested to take the most vigorous and speedy measures for punishing all such as shall refuse Continental Currency, and that the General be directed to give all necessary aid to the Council of Safety for carrying their measures on this subject into effectual execution.

By order of Congress:

JOHN HANCOCK, President.